Russia i// or // (Russian: Россия, tr. Rossiya; IPA: [rɐˈsʲijə] ( listen)), also officially known as the Russian Federation (Russian: Российская Федерация, tr.Rossiyskaya Federatsiya; IPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨjə] ( listen)), is a country in northernEurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects.
From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia,Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia,Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borderswith Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the US state of Alaska by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the eighth most populous nation with nearly 143 million people as of 2010. Extending across the whole of northern Asia and most of eastern Europe, Russia spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources and is the largest producer ofoil and natural gas globally. Russia has the world's largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's fresh water.
The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by aVarangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadicGolden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become theRussian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.
Following the Russian Revolution, Russia became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human spaceflight. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet state.
The Russian economy is the world's ninth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest bypurchasing power parity, with the 3rd largest nominal military budget. Russia is one of the world's fastest growing major economies. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, theShanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and is the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Boris Yeltsin was elected the President of Russia in June 1991, in the first direct presidential election in Russian history. During and after the Soviet disintegration, wide-ranging reforms including privatization and market and trade liberalization were being undertaken,including the radical changes along the lines of "shock therapy" as recommended by the United States and International Monetary Fund. All this resulted in a major economic crisis, characterized by 50% decline of both GDP and industrial output between 1990–95.
The privatization largely shifted control of enterprises from state agencies to individuals with inside connections in the government system. Many of the newly rich businesspeople took billions in cash and assets outside of the country in an enormous capital flight. The depression of state and economy led to the collapse of social services; the birth rateplummeted while the death rate skyrocketed. Millions plunged into poverty, from 1.5% level of poverty in the late Soviet era, to 39–49% by mid-1993. The 1990s saw extreme corruption and lawlessness, rise of criminal gangs and violent crime.
The 1990s were plagued by armed conflicts in the North Caucasus, both local ethnic skirmishes and separatist Islamist insurrections. Since the Chechen separatists had declared independence in the early 1990s, an intermittent guerrilla war was fought between the rebel groups and the Russian military. Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths and drew worldwide attention.
Russia took up the responsibility for settling the USSR's external debts, even though its population made up just half of the population of the USSR at the time of its dissolution. High budget deficits caused the 1998 Russian financial crisis and resulted in further GDP decline.
On 31 December 1999 President Yeltsin resigned, handing the post to the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 presidential election. Putin suppressed the Chechen insurgency, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the Northern Caucasus. High oil prices and initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, improving the standard of living and increasing Russia's influence on the world stage. While many reforms made during the Putin presidency have been generally criticized by Western nations as un-democratic, Putin's leadership over the return of order, stability, and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia.Under Putin's rule, Russia has been in "a long process of regression culminated in a move from a hybrid to an authoritarian regime" according to the 2011 Democracy Index. In the assessment of foreign observers, Russia has become "a corrupt, autocratickleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a "virtual mafia state.""
On 2 March 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia, whilst Putin became Prime Minister. Putin returned to the presidency following the 2012 presidential elections, and Medvedev was appointed Prime Minister.
According to the Constitution of Russia, the country is a federation and semi-presidentialrepublic, wherein the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a multi-partyrepresentative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches:
- Legislative: The bicameral Federal Assembly, made up of the 450-member State Duma and the 166-member Federation Council, adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse and the power of impeachment of the President.
- Executive: The President is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative billsbefore they become law, and appoints the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
- Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Arbitration and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional.
The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term, but not for a third consecutive term).Ministries of the government are composed of the Premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma). Leading political parties in Russia include United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and A Just Russia.
Western observers have raised questions as to how much of Russia's political system corresponds to Western liberal democratic ideals. Academics have often complained about the difficulty of classifying Russia's political system. According Steve White, during the Putin presidency Russia made clear that it had no intention of establishing a "second edition" of the American or British political system, but rather a system that was closer to Russia's own traditions and circumstances. Richard Sakwa wrote that the Russian government is undoubtedly considered legitimate by the great majority of the Russian people and seeks to deliver a set of public goods without appealing to extra-democratic logic to achieve them, but whether the system was becoming an illiberal or delegative democracy was more contentious.
Russia has a market economy with enormous natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas. It has the 10th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the 6th largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Since the turn of the 21st century, higher domestic consumption and greater political stability have bolstered economic growth in Russia. The country ended 2008 with its ninth straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually between 2000 and 2008. Real GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) was 19,840 in 2010. Growth was primarily driven by non-traded services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil or mineral extraction and exports.The average nominal salary in Russia was $640 per month in early 2008, up from $80 in 2000. In the end of 2010 the average nominal monthly wages reached 21,192 RUR (or $750 USD), while tax on the income of individuals is payable at the rate of 13% on most incomes. Approximately 13.7% of Russians lived below the national poverty line in 2010, significantly down from 40% in 1998 at the worst point of the post-Soviet collapse. Unemployment in Russia was at 6% in 2007, down from about 12.4% in 1999. The middle class has grown from just 8 million persons in 2000 to 55 million persons in 2006.
Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of Russian exports abroad. Since 2003, the exports of natural resources started decreasing in economic importance as the internal market strengthened considerably. Despite higher energy prices, oil and gas only contribute to 5.7% of Russia's GDP and the government predicts this will be 3.7% by 2011. Oil export earnings allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to $597.3 billion on 1 August 2008, the third largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. The macroeconomic policy under Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was prudent and sound, with excess income being stored in the Stabilization Fund of Russia. In 2006, Russia repaid most of its formerly massive debts, leaving it with one of the lowest foreign debts among major economies. The Stabilization Fund helped Russia to come out out of the global financial crisis in a much better state than many experts had expected.
A simpler, more streamlined tax code adopted in 2001 reduced the tax burden on people and dramatically increased state revenue.Russia has a flat tax rate of 13%. This ranks it as the country with the second most attractive personal tax system for single managers in the world after the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, Russia is considered well ahead of most other resource-rich countries in its economic development, with a long tradition of education, science, and industry. The country has more higher education graduates than Eurasia.
The economic development of the country has been uneven geographically with the Moscow region contributing a very large share of the country's GDP. Another problem is modernisation of infrastructure, ageing and inadequate after years of being neglected in 1990s; the government has said $1 trillion will be invested in development of infrastructure by 2020. In December 2011, Russia finally joined World Trade Organisation, allowing it a greater access to overseas markets. Some analysts estimate that WTO membership could bring the Russian economy a bounce of up to 3 per cent annually. Russia ranks the second most corrupt country in Europe (afterUkraine), according to the Corruption Perceptions Index. The Norwegian-Russian Chamber of Commerce also states that "[c]orruption is one of the biggest problems both Russian and international companies have to deal with."
The total area of cultivated land in Russia was estimated as 1,237,294 km2 in 2005, the fourth largest in the world. In 1999–2009, Russia's agriculture demonstrated steady growth, and the country turned from a grain importer to the third largest grain exporter after EU and USA. The production of meat has grown from 6,813,000 tonnes in 1999 to 9,331,000 tonnes in 2008, and continues to grow.
This restoration of agriculture was supported by credit policy of the government, helping both individual farmers and large privatized corporate farms, that once were Soviet kolkhozes and still own the significant share of agricultural land. While large farms concentrate mainly on the production of grain and husbandry products, small private household plots produce most of the country's yield of potatoes, vegetables and fruits.
With access to three of the world's oceans—the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific—Russian fishing fleets are a major contributor to the world's fish supply. The total capture of fish was at 3,191,068 tons in 2005. Both exports and imports of fish and sea products grew significantly in the recent years, reaching correspondingly $2,415 and $2,036 millions in 2008.